The Sunlight Foundation has put together a chart rating most state legislators across the nation, including Tennessee, on the basis of ideology and effectiveness.
In Tennessee, the most effective House member is listed as Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, and in the Senate, it’s Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville. The effectiveness scoring system is largely based on the number of bills sponsored and enacted into law. On that basis, the standing of Bell and Matheny are not surprising because the two are chairmen of the Government Operations Committees in the House and Senate, respectively, and in that capacity sponsor dozens of “sunset bills” to periodically renew the existence of state departments, boards, commissions and agencies.
Democrats in general are lower on the effectiveness rating, understandably since they have a hard time getting bills passed with the Republican supermajority.
In the House, the top-rated Democrat is Rep. Karen Camper of Memphis. Behind Matheny in the effectiveness rating among Republicans is House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga, who serves as sponsor of all administration bills.
The lowest-rated House members for effectiveness include Republican Reps. Steve Hall of Knoxville and Dennis “Coach” Roach of Rutledge along with Democratic Reps. Johnny Shaw of Boliver and Nashvillians Sherry Jones and Mike Stewart.
In the Senate, second to Bell in effectiveness rating is Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville. He’s also the Republican listed as furthest to the left. The most liberal senator is listed as Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis.
The most right-wing senator is Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville.
At the bottom end for effectiveness in the Senate are Sens. Ophelia Ford, D-Memphis, and Jim Summerville, R-Dickson.
As for partisanship in the House, Rep. Joshua Evans, R-Greenbrier, is listed as the most conservative member with Reps. Shelia Butt, R-Columbia, and Debra Moody, R-Covington, as close runners-up. The Republican placed farthest to the left is Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville.
Placed farthest to the left on the House chart overall is Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, with Reps. G.A. Hardaway and Joe Towns, both Memphis Democrats, as very close runners-up.
Note: The charts can be found HERE. When you scroll down the list of states, you’ll find the Tennessee House listed as ‘tn, lower’, and the Senate as ‘tn, upper.’ The charts show a bunch of circles, red (or pink actually) for Republicans, blue for Democrats. Put your cursor on a circle and the legislator is identified.
The higher up on the chart, the more effective the legislator is considered. The liberal-conservative rating, meanwhile, is determined by the left (liberal) or right (conservative) horizontal placement.